Rotating inks


Having a lot of different inks is one of those fountain pen geek problems that most people don’t get.

Some people have different inks in different pens, while others just use the same in all of their pens. I usually have the same ink in all of my pens because then I can just pick up the closest pen in my cup when my current pen runs out of ink.

I try to use the same ink for longer periods. This is to avoid having many bottles that are almost empty. And I try to use up what I have of one colour before I move on to the next one.

For me, the same goes for notebooks and inks. I like to complete something before I move on to the next.

I obviously don’t use the whole bottle before I move on to the next. The exception is, as mentioned above, when I have two similar colours.

The way it works is that when I get something new I ink up my pens as they run out, and test out the ink with all of my pens for a while. And then I just rotate between what I have. I usually keep to one colour for 6-8 weeks.


Ordering internationally.


Every time I order something online I have a lit of stuff I need, and another list of stuff I would like to get.

How do I pick where to order from?

Well, that is a difficult question. My first priority is always to get all of my “must have” items, and then ideally all my “nice to have” items in as few orders as possible; ideally one order.

JetPens and Goulet are the two places I order almost everything from. I prefer Goulet because I love the company, but I often end up ordering from JetPens because their selection is better.

Pricing isn’t that important to me, because the difference have to be huge for me to be able to justify making two orders instead of one. Yeah, international shipping can be expensive. It doesn’t really make sense if the difference is a dollar here or there. But I do it when it comes to expensive items, where the difference can be large.

To pack as much as possible in each shipment is important because it makes the total cost of each item as low as possible. This is probably a non-issue for most americans.


Quality as a virtue.


Some people buy the cheap one while other people buy the good one.

You have probably done the same thing. A few times through your life; if you are like me, and like to get quality products. You have to justify it. Either by necessity or value. That means, necessity: you either need to expensive one to get your stuff done, or it will make it easier, value: it might look more expensive but you will save money in the long run.

Both, one or neither can be true; it all depends on the situation.

I have stopped or I do at least try to not do it anymore. This is because I think that buying quality is a virtue by itself.

How can quality be a virtue? Or, what is good about quality?

Cheap products often entails things that we don’t like, that we at least shouldn’t like.

  • Bad working conditions for those who make it
  • Bad for the environment
  • Lower quality
  • More expensive in the long run
  • It isn’t enjoyable to use
  • Bad design.

These are often true, but not always; and not always all or none of them.

A quality product is almost always more expensive to buy, compared to a cheap one. This means that it is easier to do the right thing; if they want to. Like giving people a decent wage, make sure it is sustainable and make sure it is a good quality product.

You can go out there today and buy one of almost anything that isn’t related to technology and use it for the rest of your life; if you buy a quality product and take proper care of it.

If you buy a good pair of boots in your early 20s, and take care of them, you’ll probably save a fortune by time you retire. More expensive at that point, but it becomes cheaper and cheaper for every year that passes.

Yes, money and value is important when you come down to it. But I consider that a bonus; or one out of many things that is great about it.

This is what I think is great about quality products:

  • Less waste
  • You support local and non-local, small and large businesses that focus on doing the “right” thing.
  • They usually look and work much better.
  • You take a stand and tell the world that you actually care.

Reviews.


You will probably find a huge overlap between the products that the different stationary blogs have reviewed. The reason is simple and quite obvious: there are many products that almost everyone has or at least try out because they are fantastic.

Reviews are not an important part of this site. I’m not that into it. It’s not my thing, and I don’t buy that much stuff.

But I do write reviews from time to time, either after using them for a while, or what I think about them after using them for a long time.

Are there any value to many different reviews of the same pen, ink or notebook?

Yes, there are. And here is why. The reason I think there is a good thing to have as many reviews as possible of the same products is because more information is always a good thing to have before buying it.

For me, the value of a review comes down to three things:

  • Different people have different opinions
  • Different Pro and Cons
  • How a product holds up in a first impression scenario versus after using it for months or years.

My process for figuring out if something is for me is a simple process, but it often takes a long time.

It always starts out with a product. Before I move on to watching every video review and reading every written review I can find. Before I look at the product details to figure out if it is something for me.

I prefer broader and smooth nibs. And I will probably not buy anything with a cartridge-converter filling mechanism because of the compromises the entail.

My pen wish list is very short, because of my very strict guidelines and because I know exactly what I want from a pen. For example my current wish list:

  • Pilot Custom Heritage 92
  • Conid
  • Mont Blanc Meisterstruck
  • Visconti Homosapiens

There are two pens that I have been very curious about for a very long time, while at the same time will never end up on my list because I just know that I would be unhappy with them.

  • Lamy Dialog
  • Pilot Vanishing Point.

This is about finding as much information as possible, and to discover what you like and don’t like. It is also about finding out what people that share the same taste as you, while still reading people that don’t, because they might discover something that could tip your decision in either direction.

It is something you learn by experience. There are things about pens that doens’t matter to be, that would drive other people nuts; and the other way around.

My game killer list is as follows:

  • Slippery grip section
  • Moulded grip section
  • Gold trimming
  • Small pens
  • Low ink capacity
  • Cartridge / converter.

Having a notebook on your desk


I started doing something new few weeks ago. I’ve had this A4 notebook laying around for a few months, and I want using it for anything. I found it at the same time as I was thinking about how to write more in general.

This notebook will never leave this desk. that is the basic idea. So that I have something to write in, when I feel like it, without having to locate my bag or anything.

Why? Well it is just about removing anything that can be a reason to not write. I just site down at my desk, open the notebook and take a pen(usually my Lamy 2000) and write.

Does it work? It works were well this far. I have written much more per week than I have in a very long time.

This might sound stupid to a lot of people, but I use the same kind of tricks on all kinds of things that I love to do, like writing, photography, but I find it so hard to do it.

Writing: make sure I always have a notebook at my desk.

Photography: always have a camera with me.

The goal is to make sure it is as easy as possible, to just do a little bit more every month.


On geekdom and why I care about stationary.


There are probably a community that care fiercely about more or less anything from anal lube to shampoo; and anything in between. But don’t mix them up.

This isn’t about anal lube or shampoo. I’m as interested in that as I am in watching paint dry. But I am for some strange reason very interested in watching ink dry.

It is about how someone becomes a geek, and about why I care about pen and paper.

Let’s start by putting my Philosophy Major to use. What I mean by “geekdom” here is limited to every day items; like a camera, pen or headphones. Some people get hooked on the relationship between knowing all the details, or as much as possible and finding the “perfect”. While many care about quality, without becoming a geek.

I care about quality in general because I would rather get a quality product that is more reliably and will last longer(and often so long that I don’t remember when or where I bought it), than some cheap piece of shit that I have to replace many times per year.

Am I a kettle geek? No. I just search only until I find the one that seems like the best fit for what I want and need from a kettle. Which is way more than what most people would want from a kettle, since I’m into coffee and tea. And buy the one that the reviewers agree on being the best one.

There have to be some reason for this. In other words: the reason you are a geek about X.

I blame parts of my deep dive into stationary on the Moleskine marketing department. But that came a little bit later.

It all started when I realised how much time I spent writing with pen and paper. But I don’t enjoy using them. The pens I was using was driving me nuts. And the paper was crap.

I don’t remember 100%, but from it all went very fast. In one moment I was using what ever pens was laying around the office and printer paper to using Pilot G2’s and Moleskines in a very short time span. I don’t remember which came first, or if both came at the same time. But I know that I picked up both while buying some book, and had to walk past the stationary section to pay for the damn thing.

I cared enough, to buy something, myself, when I could get something that did more or less the same thing for free. But I didn’t become a geek.

Jump forward two years, and it happens. I went deep. This was when I discovered there was a whole community out there, and that I could get something much better. This was the when I started to look for the best pens and notebooks for what I used them for.

Another way to say what I started out with is to say that geekdom is the interplay between understanding and caring.

There is a difference between the two groups of people that care. One of them just want something good, while the other are also interested. If you just want something good, buy a Mont Blanc. But you can also find something as good, or even better, for way less money if you want to put in some time, to do the research.

This is the difference between being a geek, and not being a geek.


'Load out


I can’t believe that it is April already. This is another month with just some minor changes to what I carry, plus a bigger one that isn’t related to stationary.

What I have done is that I have re-introduced a A4 notebook into my rotation. It isn’t something I carry everywhere or anywhere. It just stays on my desk. I’m going to get more into that in an upcoming post.

I also have simplified the pens I bring with me everywhere. I have dedicated my TWSBI 580AL as my “on the go” pen, and that is the only pen I bring with me. While my Lamy 2000 is my go to long form writing pen at home. And the rest are using for writing down notes where and there. I’m also going more into this in an upcoming blog post.

Other than that, I still use the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo in all of my pens, and almost all of my notebook needs are still centred around my Midori Travelers Notebook.

The big change to what I carry everywhere is that I finally pulled the trigger on a camera I have considered to buy for a very long time. Photography is one of my favourite hobbies, and I have been looking for a good camera that is more portable than my Canon, but more enjoyable to use than my iPhone. I bought myself a Fujifilm X100t.

As I said last month, the goal is to have pictures with more or less every single blog post I’m publishing from now on. The exception is my weekly link post.


Two Pens.


The two pens I own that I use more than anything else are my Lamy 2000 and my TWSBI 580AL.

I use them for two very different things.

My 580 is always in my MTN pen holder because it has a screw on cap, never leaks and is the perfect pen for writing a little bit here and there. But still perfectly acceptable to write long form on the go, if I need to.

The Lamy 2000 is a different story. It isn’t the perfect when it comes leaks, and hasn’t a screw on cap. But it is my favourite pen to write with; especially when I sit down to really write for longer periods of time, like I am doing now. The nib is wet and very smooth, and the lack of threading for a screw on cap makes the whole grip section much more comfortable to hold for longer periods.

I’m not that interesting in finding the perfect pen for everything, because that would be almost impossible.

I want the best possible pen to have in my bag, to use both at work and on the go. The most important thing for when it comes to this pen is that the nib is smooth, it never leaks any ink, cap or anywhere else and that it has a screw on cap. This is in many aspects the opposite of what I want from the perfect long form writing pen. I don’t care that much if it leaks a little bit into the cap, and I don’t want a screw on cap, because being comfortable to use it for a long time is much more important.

Are my current pens perfect for their task at hand?

I don’t have any complaints about my Lamy 2000, it does exactly what I want it to do.

My 580 is different story. While I don’t have much to complain about, I still don’t think it is the perfect. The next pen I am going to buy is intended to replace its role. This will be a Pilot Custom Heritage 92. I don’t want one tools that can make a good job everywhere, I want a set of tools that can make an awesome job where they fit.


'Finding a place for pen & paper'


One of my personal struggles in this digital age is to find a place for pen and paper. There is a time and a place for the digital tools, but there is also a place for the analoge.

There is nothing I love more than to write on good paper with a good (fountain) pen.

The struggle for me is to find the proper balance. I’m obviously not going to code on paper, and I don’t keep my long term notes on paper. The frist, because that would be dumb. And the second, because I need search and update them all the time.

But there are many things that most people use digital tools for, that I prefer using pen and paper to do.

Some of them are tasks and calendaring. My main reason there is efficiency and simplicity.

Long from writing is another area where my impression is that most people do it digital only. I think there are some big advantages to do it on paper first, even though you are going to use it digitally later.

Almost everything I write starts out on a sheet of paper or a page in a notebook. For software development it is about figuring out what to do, and potential parts, before I get started. And then about writing down everything I need to remember as I go. A notebook is the perfect tool because then I don’t need to leave what I am doing to add it to some application.

Regular writing is a little bit different. A large portion of what I write is either published online or sent as e-mails. But I do write a huge amount of stuff that never go anywhere. Either because that was the intent, or because it is crap.

To write it on paper before you bring it over to something else, and in the process, rewriting it takes more time. I think it is a very good idea to do so.

We are all reading, editing, and revising everything we write. Right?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is just too easy to say: “Fuck it…”. And just publish it before you gave it the proper grooming; or send the e-mail before you gave it the time. I never start to write where it is going to end up.

For example: this blog post is first written in a notebook, before I transacribe(and edit it during the process) into Ulysses on my Mac. Then I make sure all the grammar en spelling is correct. I try to always give it another few rounds of reading and editing before I publish it.

This is more or less the same process I use for everything I write. It might sound like a long and unnecessary process. But it isn’t.

You are right, it takes longer time. But that is fair compromise if it makes sure the end result is better.

Use your pens and paper anywhere you want. Figure out where it works for you, and don’t work for you. The most important thing is to find the place where it improves your work.


On Kickstarter pens and notebooks.


I have written about this before, but like many other things I just mentioned it in passing without going that much into it.

I see interesting projects on kickstarter and alike more or less every week. Kickstarter projects and limited edition products are two things I’m not fund of.

I don’t mind limited edition stuff as long as the only difference is the aesthetic.

I’m not a collector, I’m a user. That means that if I loose or break something I love – I’ll get another of the same model. The same goes for notebooks. I buy more of the same most of the time.

Some people love to pledge and make new and interesting projects happen, and I get it. I’m not that interesting most of the time. The exception is companies that use kickstarter to get a company started. And not just make a few of “X”.

My interest in what comes out of Kickstarter is when they are done with that phase and becomes a real company. Not many of them get that far. But if they make something good, I’ll be more than happy to support them by buying their product when they come that far.


'Midori Travelers Notebook


There are a few stationary products, but not that many though, that I whole heartedly believe everyone should check out. The Midori Travelers Notebook is without doubt one of them. I’m going to get to why in a moment. But let me explain what it is first.

A Midori Travelers Notebook consists of three parts:

  • The Cover
  • Refills
  • Accessories.

You can get two different covers from Midori, one regular sized and one passport sized. There are also a whole community of unofficial third party covers available. So there should be something that fits more or less every aesthetic and practical preference.

The best thing about the MTN in my opinion is the wide variety of refills. You have all the usual stuff: lined, grid and blank. But can also get different calendar refills, and special refills for drawing(heavier paper), thinner paper(if you want more pages per refills) or kraft paper for weirdos and scrapbookers.

You can fit up to six refills in the official cover, and there are unofficial covers that can fit even more.

Accessories for the Midori Travelers Notebook is world for itself. I personally only use one: a pen holder, but I have been thinking about adding a second one. There are plenty of official and unofficial accessories that you can attach to the cover or fit inside it. Everything from my beloved pen holder, to zip pockets, credit card holders, and much much more.

Why is it so great? You can put together a set of refills and accessories that fits exactly what you need, and you can just change the setup when your needs change.

My big problem with all the notebooks I have had before is that I want lined paper 99% of the time, to write long form or to manage tasks and stuff like that, but there are times when I want a blank page. Not that often, but it happens. I solved this problem in my Midori Travelers Notebook by having five lined notebooks, and one blank one at the end.

Another big problem for me in the past, that the MTN solves is the many notebooks problem. I like to have one for journaling, one for tasks, one for miscellaneous, one for studying and one for work. The many notebooks problem is divided in two: you have the two small or too large problem: Field Notes – too small; regular notebook – too heavy and too large(you don’t have enough room in your bag, and you always have many pages left when you don’t need it anymore) & you need to remember to bring them all.

The way this is solved by using a MTN is simple: you have all your different notebooks in one cover, as long as you remember your cover, you remember all your notebooks. And the number of pages is note too small, where you feel like you always need to carry 2 or 3 extras just in case you want to write a lot. While at the same time small enough that you feel like you can use a whole notebook for a project.

A third problem I often face is that what I need or want changes. Most notebooks don’t adept well to change. If I suddenly need a grid for some weird reason? Well, then I just order a few grid refills and start using them. Some regular notebooks have tried to combine blank and lined, or blank and grid paper before. I like the idea of having more than one page formatting in the same package. But I think the way they did it was wrong. It is impossible to find a configuration that works for everyone. I probably use one or two blank pages for every ten lined pages I write. To have them in the same refill or notebook is a mistake. But you can do a lot of interesting things, when you have the option of combining different refills in a cover. If you mostly write on lined paper but sometimes need a blank page, and sometimes need a grid? Just fill 4 slots with lined, and one blank and one grid.

To summarise, you should get one because you can customise everything from the accessories to the combination of refills to something that fits your need right now; and you can change it to what ever your needs are tomorrow without any problems at all. You are only limited by the FedEx delivery time and the number of refills you can fit in the cover.


Lefties and fountain pens.


I’m not sure how many articles I read about being left handed and using a fountain pen when I started to get interested. Some of them were good, and a very few excellent ones have come up since then. But I have always missed a good guide. This is my crack at providing it.

People that write with their right hand are lucky enough to pull their hand away from what they write, this gives them the advantage of having the time they use to write a whole line for the ink to dry. That combined with being the majority seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Being left handed can be difficult for a number of reasons. Writing on a blackboard or whiteboard is very difficult, you have three options: smudge what you write as you go, learn to under or over write or try to write without stabilising your arm.

My biggest annoyance with most of the articles about using fountain pens left handed is that most of them take the “just use this and this” route.

Let me start with the problem left handed writers meet when they try to write with either a fountain pen or any “wet” pen: you start writing and you mess it up by dragging your hand over it.

There are two different ways you can solve this problem, either by limiting the time what you write with takes to dry or by learning a few techniques. The techniques takes a while to get a handle on, you don’t need to learn them, but I recommend it because there are always situations where you need them. They are called over and under writing. The basic principle is that you place your hand in a angle where it instead of dragging over your current line drag either above or below it. I’m not very good at either, but I know how to do both. I prefer overwriting, but underwriting is a must if you have to write on a blackboard or a whiteboard.

Dry time. There are a few factors that plays a role in how long time it take for what you write or draw to dry:

  • Paper: some kinds of paper absorb the ink faster than others. This is a very complicated topic. I usually go after the rule that thick paper in general absorb ink faster, but there are exceptions, like Rhodia’s paper. Most good paper give you a short dry time, without bleed through or feathering. While cheap thick paper can give you should dry time, but often also a lot of feathering and some bleed through. Going for a paper that gives you a minimal dry time is something I think is a very good idea in the beginning.
  • Ink: some inks dry faster than others, and there are a lot of reasons for it. Some brands are made to have very short dry time, some inks have a okay dry time, while some inks have a dry time that makes them almost unusable for left handed writers. Both Goulet and JetPens tell you on the product page if it is a fast drying ink. Going for a ink that dries fast is useful in the beginning. But you should not be discouraged to stay away from a ink just because it has a little bit longer dry time. What is a struggle in a beginning is not a problem at all once you learn to handle it.
  • Pen & Nib. Some fountain pens are wetter than others, this means that it lays down more ink on the page. One prime example of this is the Lamy 2000. The same goes for nibs, thinner nib means less ink. I’m not a huge fan of fine nibs. I love to write with a very wet and broad nib, because of how smooth the writing process, and how my writing looks. While others I know prefer a rougher nib because it lets them control their writing more. Go for the kind of nib and line width you prefer, but remember, the dry time is considerably shorter if you go for a finer nib because it puts way less ink on the page.

Before you get discouraged. You can probably learn how to write without smudging any kind of ink with any kind of pen and nib on any type of paper in not too long if you put your mind to it. The trick is to learn how to under and over writing. There are of course combinations that are more tricky than others, for example a very slow drying ink on the paper Rhdoia uses.

I have some very precise advice when it comes down to what to buy at not to buy, at least in the beginning.

First of all, stay away from the Lamy Safari and any Lamy and other pen that have a moulded grip section. They are made to learn right handed writers how to properly hold their pen. I have one, and I never use it for the reason that it is a pain in the ass to find a way to hold it that is comfortable.

Go for a fast drying ink in the beginning. My advice is to go for the Noodlers Bernanke black or blue is a excellent choice. It dries more or less right away on most paper that aren’t known for long dry time, and the only times I smudged with it was when I was trying to do just that.

Paper is a topic I’m not going to cover to a large extent here. I used to just go to a local book store and pick up anything with thick paper in the beginning, and that usually gave me paper that gave me either immediate dry time, or paper that dried fast enough for me to only smudge here and there. Leuchtturm1917, Midori Travelers Notebook refills and Field Notes have all given me very fast dry time.

I have one neat trick when it comes to notebooks. I have become a huge fan of narrow notebooks over the years. The two notebooks I used to most compared to when I started to use them are Field Notes and Midori Travelers Notebook. The thing that is great about a narrow notebook, is that you can learn how to write without moving your hand much. And that limits smudging a lot. The other thing that I think is great about narrow notebook is that you can, if you want to limit how much space and paper you waste. A empty line in a MTN refill is around half the amount of paper you waste in a regular A4 sized notebook.

How to get started? Just order a pen, the TWSBI Eco or Pilot Metropolitan are good choices and remember to get a converter to the Metropolitan so that you can use ink from a bottle. Get a bottle of Bernanke blue or black, I prefer the black. And just start writing a lot with it. There will be some smudging in the beginning, it is like that for everyone, especially lefties. The important thing is to try to learn how to under and over write.

I remember that I got two bottles of ink when I got my Lamy 2000, one Bernanke Black and one with the Lamy black ink. The latter was absolutely useless for me in the beginning. But the Noodler Bernanke had such a short dry time that I almost never smudged anything, and I had learned the proper technique by the time that bottle was empty. I don’t even think much about dry time and so on these days.


Your first fountain pen.


I have reviewed the three fountain pens that I personally consider to be the best beginner fountain pens. Which one you should get is a difficult question. But I’m going to give some short but straight to the point on why you want it, or don’t want it.

  • Go for the TWSBI Eco if you aren’t afraid of buying ink in bottles.
  • Go for the Pilot Metropolitan if you want something good and cheap as a starting point.
  • Go for the Lamy Safari if you want to test different nibs to figure out what you prefer.

The best buy of the three is in my opinion the TWSBI Eco, while the Pilot Metropolitan is the cheapest place to start, and the Lamy Safari is the thing you want, if you want to experiment; like you did in college.


'Review


There used to be two pens that where the beginner fountain pen; the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metropolitan. Made by two great companies. And Lamy Safari was the beginner fountain pen before that.

Both of them are highly compromised pens, but most people forgive that when it comes to the Metropolitan because it is much cheaper than the Safari. You can get a TWSBI Eco for the same price, and I would recommend that if you don’t have any problems with buying bottled ink.

I ordered my Lamy Safari a week after I got my first fountain pen: the Pilot Metropolitan. My relationship with this pen is a love-hate one – at the same time. The thing I love about it is how “goofy” it looks. It is this weird plastic thing. And you have a wide variety of colours and styles to chose from. You have a lot more nibs to pick from, than the Metropolitan, and you can just get a pack of all the different Lamy nibs and test out what you prefer. It is a fantastic pen for this exact reason.

I think it is a little bit more expensive than it should be. But my main issue with the pen is the grip section. This is not a Safari problem, but a problem I have with all the cheaper Lamy pens. They have formed the grip to match how you are supposed to hold the pen, and that is fine, by itself, and very useful for when you learn how to write. But, that only works well for right handed people. Most left handed writers like myself, just ignore it and hold it as they please. It is possible, and it works okay. But it has always annoyed the living shit out of me.

Lamy nibs are still to this day the best I have ever used. And I would without doubt carry a few of these if they fixed the damn grip section.


'Ink Review


Tsuki-yo is my third Iroshizuku ink, and it will without doubt not be my last.

The thing I love about Iroshizuku inks is how consistent they are. I know more or less how the dry time will be, how it is to write with them, and how they perform. This makes it much easier to find a new ink. I just need to find a colour I like.

Tsuki-yo is my first blue ink. The reason I have ignored blue inks for so long is that is my distaste for what I call “bic blue”. This is the colour that you get in most cheap ball point pens, or in the cartridge you get in the box when you buy a Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy Safari.

One of my goals this year was to explore more ink colour than what I have done in the past. And a natural step in this direction is to try more blues.

I have used Tsuki-yo with all of my pens. It delivers a darker, but still not muddy blue colour when I use it with a wetter pen, like my Lamy 2000. And it delivers a lighter but not washed out colour when I use it with one of my dryer pens.

My experience this far with the Iroshizuku line of inks is that how they behave with wet versus dry nibs are very consistent. Wet nib – darker colour without being muddy; dry nib – lighter colour without being washed out.


How I pick inks.


Inks are usually available both as a sample, and in either a small or large bottle; some brands are available in both; and others give you a collection of three different inks in a smaller bottle in a nice package.

I have never bought a sample or anything but the largest bottle available.

This is my process every single time I am going to buy a new bottle of ink. I have a text file with all the different inks I have seen, that I haven’t bought before, that I think looks interesting. When I’m going to order something I usually go for something I know I liked, and have used before, or I go for something new.

The first thing I do is to open my text file, and open every single link, and look around until I decide on a colour. Then I close everything except the inks that match that colour. And finally I eliminate one by one until I have two or three options left.

Then I move into the research stage. I start by looking at the writing samples at both Goulet and JetPens, before I read every single review I can find. What I am looking for is to get an overview of how the ink is to use, and how it looks with different pens. Because I use thin and wide nibs; wet and dry. Most inks will look different in the different scenarios.

My goal is to know as much as I can about it, before I order. It isn’t unusual for me to use at least an hour to figure out if I want to order a ink or not.

The result is that I have never bought a bottle of ink that I was unhappy with. I have owned a bottle of ink I wasn’t happy with, a bottle of black Lamy ink. The story behind that is that I got it for free when I bought my Lamy 2000, so it doesn’t count.


'Load out


I’m going to change the focus of these monthly load out posts a little bit. They are about what I use, but I’m going to put a stronger emphasis on the details of how I use them as well.

I still use the same pens that I have been using lately:

  • Lamy 2000: medium nib
  • TWSBI Eco: 1.1 stub
  • TWSBI 580AL: medium nib
  • Pilot Metropolitan: medium nib.

All of them have been inked up with Lamy Black ink until a few days ago. I had a little bit left of a bottle, and decided to just use it up, before I used anything else. It’s too bad to throw away good ink, even though I don’t like that much. All of my pens are being inked up with my first blue ink – Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo – as they run out of ink. Both my Lamy 2000 and my TWSBI Eco have been inked up with it, and I love it.

I’m particular about almost everything, and ink colours is without doubt one of them. I have said this many times before, and I’m going to do it again: a ink need to have either excellent colours or excellent dry time. This is one of the reasons I don’t like the Lamy black ink. I can talk until the cows come home about my distaste for mediocre inks. This is about blue inks.

The reason I have kept away from blue inks for over three years is that I don’t like the typical blue ink you find in most regular pens, and the cartridge you get with most fountain pens. It looks way too light, and the first thing I think when I see it is: that is what you get from the pen at the office with your company logo on it.

I guess it all comes down to my preference for inks that are darker. Not just for blue inks, but almost any colour. But not too dark, it still need to look blue if it is blue or green if it is green; the exception is black inks, the blacker the better.

I’m going to do a proper review of the Tsuki-yo in a few weeks.

There are some pretty big changes this month. Not only have I extended my colour palette away from black and the occasional green to blue, but I have also made some drastic changes to my notebook setup. I don’t use Field Notes anymore.

Let me explain. I have been a big fan of them for a long time, and they have been something I carried everywhere from May 2013 until a few weeks ago. You can read more about me and Field Notes here.

This is a part of a lager project I have going on, where I am trying to move everything I can over to my beloved Midori Travelers Notebook. I have six refills in it. Five lined, and one blank. I have two for journaling(one of them are full), one for tasks, and I use the blank one for sketching(when I like to pretend that I know how to draw, or making UI mockups at work) and testing inks.

Why did I do this?

  • I’m trying to carry and use fewer notebooks, because I prefer to carry one less thing if I can without loosing something essential. And this brings me down to two: MTN & Hobonichi Planner.
  • The MTN refills are a little bit larger, which makes it easier to combine small projects on a single page, and map out larger projects on a single one.
  • The paper works much better with fountain pens. The dry time is a little bit slower, but still pretty good.

My favourite benefit of doing this is that it takes much less time to browse through the notebook to get an overview. There are advantages to the smaller size, but it all depends on if they provide you something on the other side.

What does this mean for the Hobonichi Planner? Well, it doesn’t mean anything before the end of the year. But I will, as I usually do, evaluate then, what I’m going to use for the next year. It would be nice to also have my calendar in my Travelers Notebook. But I have two concerns, about the MTN calendar refills:

  • I have some very specific needs when it comes to layout: a full page per day, and a page for monthly goals between each month.
  • All of the refills I have seen are generic, and I prefer those who are made for a specific year. It isn’t a deal breaker, I just prefer to not have to deal with filling in all of the dates myself.

This is the biggest change, since I started using fountain pens. I think MTN is a must buy for almost everyone, because it is so easy to put together a combination of refills and accessories that fits what you need. You could do the same thing with different notebooks, but having it all in one package makes it much more convenient; it is so easy to forget one of them if you carry multiple notebooks. Everything I need, including a pen, is in one thing, and that makes the MTN worth every single penny.


Links of the Week.


I have gone back and forth, on if I should continue to link as I have been doing it, or move over to a single post with a list of links. There are pro and cons with both. There are two reasons I’m switching: First of all, it takes much less time to write a list than individual posts. And secondly, I can link to more stuff and be more free to only add commentary when I feel like it. The format also gives me an opportunity to comment on larger trends in any given week.

  • Gourmet Pens: Review: Diplomat Excellence A Evergreen GT Fountain. Gold isn’t really my thing. But there is a few pens with gold colouring that peeks my interest from time to time. This is one of them. It have to be done in a classy way, without being to “bling” or too “grandad”.
  • The Gentleman Stationer: Pen Review: TWSBI Eco. Another great review of one of my favourite pens. Everyone should have at least one of them.
  • The Well-Appointed Desk: Review of Leuhtturm 1917 Sketchbook. I’m a huge fan of Leuhtturm. They are very good at walking the line between minimal bleed through while maintaining short dry time. And they are also very good at giving people a good option to the core of Moleskine’s offering. This notebook looks like a very good option for anyone that either are sketching, want thicker paper or want a better option to their Moleskine Sketchbook.

On notebooks.


People buy different notebooks for many different reasons, but most of it can be boiled down to the following: use case, paper properties, how it looks and the format.

How a notebook looks is very important for some people, while others think it is less important. I personally prefer to either use a cover like the Midori Travelers Notebook or to go for a classic design like Leuchtturm1917 or Field Notes. While others go for something with something fancy with a lot of colour or even a themed notebook. Some people even put stickers on them. It can be, like everything else, a way to express to people who you are.

The pens and inks you are going to use with the notebook is a very important factor when it comes to what kind of paper you want. It is both a question of aesthetics and practicality. It looks horrible when the ink bleeds through from the two previous pages and your writing feathers like crazy. The kind of dry time you can tolerate is also an vary important factor.

The format is probably the most important part of a notebook. It is both the size and dimensions of it; but also how the pages are designed. You have the three classic layouts: grids, lines and blank; I know there are many different kinds of grids: boxes, dots etc, which you prefer is up to you; but they are more or less the same thing. This is closely related to the use case.

A use case is the thing that combines the three previous parts together. How a notebook looks might be important depending on where you are going to use it. A classic Leuchtturm1917 is probably a better fit in an office than some crazy porn themed Moleskine copy. What you are going to use it for is very important when you try to decide what kind of layout and format you want. Something you only use at your desk will probably be very different from something you carry around everywhere. For example, I mostly use A4 notepads at work, while my Midori Travelers Notebook is the notebook I bring everywhere.

How the page looks is important for a number of reasons. You probably want something very specific if you are going to use it as a planner; or anything else that is tied to a specific use case. While other times you want something more generic. Some people prefer a blank page because then they feel like they can do what ever they want with the page; and others prefer it because it looks better. Others prefer a lined page; like myself; it is more convenient when you only write, and it wastes much less space than a blank page. Grids is a very interesting layout, most people I know, that prefer them, do so because they get the flexibility of a blank page, with the infrastructure of a lined page.

What is it that makes a notebook useful or not? There are two factors that play a very important role for me. It have to either be portable(pocket sized, Midori Traveler Notebook sized or A5 sized) or A4 if it is something I’m just going to leave at my desk. And then you have the most important thing. How long does it take any of the inks I have in rotation to dry? The last thing I want to think about when I either take notes or write is to wait for the completed page to dry before I turn the page.

This makes some of the more popular notebook brands more or less useless for me in a day to day context. Both as a lefty, and as a person who don’t enjoy to wait 30 seconds for a page to dry. It should be dry within a few seconds, I can stretch as long as five.

I’m going to do a proper test of some of the more popular stationary geek notebooks as soon as I have the time. My goal there is to look at how useful they are. Rhodia make great notebooks, and they are especially useful for testing inks. But they are not usable for me because it takes way too long to dry, even with a non fountain pen.


'The Finer Point


The Finer Point:

How I use my notebooks is something I think about a lot. In July 2015 I wrote a post on my notebook set-up exploring what notebooks I used and more importantly how I used them. However since July quite a bit has changed therefore I wanted to post a February 2016 update running through my notebook usage.

I love reading about how people use their notebooks, this post both gave me some ideas about how to use my notebooks, and also some changes to my monthly load out post.


'Gorgeous.ink


Gorgeous.ink:

Until Christmas of last year I never had a bag that I really liked. That all changed when I read a review of the Tom Bihn Co-Pilot by Jon Bemis on the Pen Addict blog. My particular need is to be able to carry my writing supplies to and from work so that I can journal and or write letters during my lunch break.

Fantastic post. It also gave me some ideas on what I could do with my monthly load out post.


'Penucopia


Thomas R. Hall:

The word geek has traditionally had more of a negative connotation, but has been used more recently to mean someone who is passionate about a subject. Indeed, I can definitely say that I “geek out” about fountain pens and stationery. I “geek out” about mechanical keyboards too. But there are a wide array of topics that I also geek out about. To me, it’s about caring about something deeply. I want to ensure that when I get something, it’s the best product that I can get that meets my needs.

Fantastic post. The funny thing about being a geek is that almost everyone are geeks about at least a few things. Being a geek is to care much more about a certain thing than most people do. And the interesting thing about being a geek is that the combination of areas where you are a geek is very personal.


'The Pencilcase Blog


Pencilcase:

With the M (by Marc Newson), Montblanc brought a radically different product to the fountain pen market. Compared to the ever-so popular Meisterstück 146, with its conservative looks, the M appears to come straight from the future, which is kind of what Montblanc aimed at…

I’m not a fan of Montblanc for a number of reasons. The three most important ones are: they refuse to sell online; their aesthetics is a little bit too conservative or a little bit too “grandpa” for my personal taste; their prices are beyond stupid.

The M is one of the few, if not the only Montblanc pen I have ever considered. It looks fantastic. There are many pens that look better. But it has something unique to it that made me put it on the list. I also hope that this might be the first step for Montblanc to join the 21st century.


'Seaweed Kisses


Seaweed Kisses:

The Journal Diaries is a blog segment where we get a sneak peek into the journals, notebooks, organizers, and diaries from creative souls all over the world. My special guest today is Kim based in California, USA.

That’s one good looking bullet journal. And Bullet journal is a fantastic system for anyone that wants a task management system for pen and paper with a lot of structure. I personally prefer something much simpler.


'The Pen Haul


The Pen Haul:

I want to start this review out right, with my honest opinion of how I like this ink. I hate it. Now let me tell you why I hate it and why you probably don’t need this ink in your collection. I luckily only picked up a pack of cartridges to try out and avoided getting a bottle that would take up unnecessary space on my desk.

That got to be the most useless ink I have ever seen.